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Palestinian teen killed in clash with IDF during Jewish pilgrimage to West Bank town

PA Health Ministry says several more wounded, as gunmen seen opening fire at troops near Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus during Orthodox worshipers’ visit to shrine

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, early November 22, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, early November 22, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

A Palestinian teenager was killed in clashes with the IDF in Nablus overnight Tuesday-Wednesday, as the army sought to secure a monthly pilgrimage of Orthodox Jewish worshipers to a shrine deep inside a Palestinian area of the northern West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said 16-year-old Ahmed Shehadeh was shot in the chest amid the clashes and died at a hospital in the city.

The ministry said at least four more Palestinians were hurt in the clashes, including one listed in critical condition.

A local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Nablus-based Lion’s Den terror groups claimed responsibility for shooting and hurling explosives at the troops escorting the group of Israelis to Joseph’s Tomb on the outskirts of Nablus.

In videos circulated on social media, heavy gunfire could be heard across the West Bank city. Another clip showed Palestinians hurling stones at security forces.

There was no immediate comment from the Israel Defense Forces on the clashes.

 

Joseph’s Tomb is located inside Area A of the West Bank, which is officially under complete PA control, though the Israeli military regularly enters, despite Palestinian opposition.

The IDF does bar Israeli citizens from entering Area A without prior authorization though, and some criticize the monthly incursions as an unnecessary provocation that places Israeli soldiers at risk.

Joseph’s Tomb is revered by some as the final resting place of the biblical Joseph. Visits to the tomb by Orthodox Israelis take place on a monthly basis, if not more frequently, and almost always spark violent clashes with Palestinian locals when the IDF enters Nablus beforehand to secure the area for the arrival of the hardline pilgrims.

In recent months, Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly targeted troops operating in the West Bank, as well as military posts, soldiers operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements and civilians on the roads.

View of the compound of Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus, April 10, 2022. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

The clashes came as the military pressed on with a major anti-terror offensive mostly focused on the northern West Bank to deal with a series of Palestinian attacks that have left 29 people in Israel and the West Bank dead since the start of the year.

The operation has netted more than 2,000 arrests in near-nightly raids but has also left over 130 Palestinians dead, many of them — though not all — while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.

The IDF said troops came under fire in Nablus and arrested 16 wanted Palestinians in arrest raids across the West Bank early Tuesday.

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